Georgia vs. Florida: The 3 Biggest X-Factors in SEC East Showdown
The Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs rivalry is one of the best in college football, and the outcome consistently has big implications for each team going forward in the brutal SEC East.
This year is no different with both teams coming into the game ranked in the Top 25. Florida currently sits at No. 2 overall in the polls and is fresh off of a big win over South Carolina, while Georgia comes in ranked No. 10 after beating lowly Kentucky last week and losing to the same South Carolina team the week before.
The two teams also enter No. 1 and No. 2 in the SEC East standings. Florida is 6-0 in conference play and Georgia is 4-1.
If Georgia can somehow pull off an upset over arguably the second-best team in the country, things will get real interesting in the SEC East.
However, if Florida can continue to dominate teams on the defensive side of the ball and take down Georgia, the Gators should cruise through the rest of the season and earn a spot in the SEC Championship Game.
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When it comes to the players on the field, there are several X-factors to consider that could have a big impact on the outcome of the game.
The first, and perhaps, biggest X-factor is Florida head coach Will Muschamp and his defensive schemes.
Florida's defense has been one of the best in the country this year, allowing just 97.2 rushing yards, 184.7 passing yards and 12.1 points per game.
However, the Bulldogs come in ranked No. 30 in the country in both passing and rushing offense and are scoring nearly 40 points per game. Quarterback Aaron Murray has passed for nearly 2,000 yards with 19 touchdowns, and the Bulldogs' two-headed monster backfield of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have compiled 1,110 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.
For Florida to have the best chance of winning the game, it will need to continue to play well and shut down Georgia's potent offense.
The second X-factor is Georgia head coach Mark Richt and his ability to motivate his team.
Back in the 2007 game, Richt sent his entire team onto the field to celebrate the team's first touchdown. This not only fired his team up but also caused Urban Meyer, then Florida's head coach, to fire his team up as well.
As if everyone wasn't fired up enough already, this sent them over the edge and made for quite the atmosphere.
Georgia proceeded to win the game 42-30 behind a 188-yard rushing performance from Knowshon Moreno and a six-sack defensive effort.
With both teams ranked in the top 10 going into this game, look for Richt to pull some kind of stunt to get his team fired up and motivated for this game.
The third and final X-factor for this game is the turnover battle.
Turnovers play a crucial role in any rivalry game, and they play an even more important role in rivalry games like this one that take place on a neutral field.
Florida has forced 15 turnovers this season (eight interceptions and seven fumbles) and has turned the ball over only four times for a plus-11 turnover margin.
Georgia has forced 10 turnovers (five interceptions and five fumbles) and given the ball up 10 times as well for an even turnover margin. However, the Bulldogs are plus-two in turnover margin against conference opponents this year (via cfbstats.com).
Because turnovers have such an impact on the momentum in a rivalry game of this magnitude, the team that wins the turnover battle should win the game.
Be on the lookout this weekend for these three X-factors and how they contribute to the outcome of the game.
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